Opinion: Government and First Nations leaders must listen to urban Indigenous voices
Canada's urban Aboriginal people need a voice.
More than half of the country's Indigenous people live off-reserve, and this year the federal government asked for ideas to better serve them.
The problem, says Vancouver journalist Wawmeesh Hamilton, is that even if the government is listening, there's no unified voice to hear them.
Every day, Hamilton sees aboriginal men and women living on the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
But what he rarely sees are First Nations leaders serving those people.
Who will advocate for them, he asks? And he notes, indigenous leaders get funding based on populations estimates that can include off-reserve residents, but the programs and advocacy tend to serve reserve residents.
So Hamilton is calling for a new agency to be created — one that will speak on behalf of the Indigenous people living in Canadian cities, with an understanding of the challenges those urban lives can create.